Congress today kicked off the process of electing new chiefs, with two names almost certain – Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gallot and former Union Minister Shahi Tharoor. There are now two more candidates in the party’s first election in more than 20 years without any Gandhi as the default choice for president.
Former federal minister Manish Tewari and former Madhya Pradesh chief minister Kamal Nath could also step in. The source said Kamal Nath was being “considered and potentially competing”. Earlier he was said to be reluctant, preferring to focus on his home state of Madhya Pradesh.
In an interview with NDTV yesterday, Digvijaya Singh suggested that he could run for Congress president.
When asked if he prefers Ashok Gehlot or Shashi Tharoor in leadership roles, Digvijaya Singh said: “Let’s see. I don’t exclude myself, why do you exclude me?”
He added: “Everyone has the right to compete…you’ll know the answer on the evening of the 30th.” Those interested in running for congressional presidency have until September 30th.
If needed, the election will be held on October 17 and the results will be announced two days later.
The last time Congress saw any non-Gandhi in a leadership race was in 2000, when Jitendra Prasada challenged Sonia Gandhi.
Shashi Tharoor was the first to announce his intention to run against Sonia Gandhi, who took over as interim chief when her son Rahul Gandhi resigned in 2019 after losing consecutive elections.
Ashok Gehlot is seen as Gandhi’s first choice for Congress president; he is likely to submit his nomination papers on Monday after weeks of boycotts. He reportedly disagreed with giving up the Rajasthan chief minister position and suggested he could take on both roles.
However, Rahul Gandhi today strongly stated that if Glott wins, he cannot hold both positions. “We have made commitments in Udaipur and I hope the commitments will be upheld,” the Congress leader told reporters in Kerala on the “one person, one position” rule.